Ellen W. Wiewel, M.P.H., an Epidemiologist at the Health Department and the paper's author, said, "We estimate that at least a quarter of New Yorkers with HIV don't know they are infected because they have never been tested. Our analysis found that, while gay and bisexual men in New York continue to be at highest risk of HIV/AIDS infection, middle-aged black men are also shouldering a disproportionate amount of illness. HIV testing early on -- and ensuring that partners know of the results -- is crucial for everyone who is sexually active or using injecting drugs."
Of black men ages 40-54 living with HIV/AIDS whose risk factor for infection was known, half were infected by injecting drugs and 28% were infected through sex with other men. More than one third of black men in this age group living with HIV/AIDS reside in Brooklyn, where the overall infection rate for the group is 1 in 18. The overall rate of HIV infection among black men in this age group remains highest in Manhattan, where 1 in 7 are living with HIV/AIDS.
Additionally, data indicate that middle-aged black men are more likely than other New Yorkers to be co-diagnosed with both HIV and AIDS. The progression to AIDS illnesses can take as many as ten years. This means that many black, middle-aged men may not know their HIV status, are not getting tested at an age where HIV can be detected in its early stages, and do not know they need treatment.
Perinatal transmission of HIV/AIDS peaked in 1990, when 320 cases were reported. Because of the widespread use of perinatal medication since 1994, only 24 perinatally infected babies were born in New York City in 2001. New pediatric HIV/AIDS infections have steadily declined both nationally and locally in recent years. There have been approximately 3,800 diagnoses of children with HIV/AIDS in New York City since the beginning of the epidemic; nearly 1,400 of these children have died. The majority (98%) of these children were infected during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or through breastfeeding.
Kai-Lih Liu, Ph.D., a Health Department Epidemiologist, and co-author and presenter of the paper said, "While the decline in perinatal transmission of HIV/AIDS is one of the success stories of the epidemic, it is still tragic to have to explain to a new mother that her child's illness could have been prevented had it been detected earlier. We can't emphasize enough the importance of early testing and treatment for women who are pregnant, or considering pregnancy."
Women who are pregnant or who are planning pregnancy should know their HIV status. Without medication, a mother can pass HIV to her baby. Treatment can improve both the mother's health and greatly reduce the chance that the baby will get infected.
DOHMH's 10 STD clinics, located in each of the five boroughs, provide free services, including STD diagnosis and treatment, confidential or anonymous HIV testing, and hepatitis immunizations on a walk-in basis regardless of immigration status. To obtain further information about treatment guidelines and other STD information, you can visit www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/std/std.html. Further information is available by calling 311, visiting nyc.gov/health or from your medical provider.